The news that Sheriff Michael Hennessey is endorsing Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi as his successor hit hard this morning, mostly among members of the Sheriff's union which are angling for someone who is seemingly more of a cop's cop.
Although members of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association were not necessarily surprised that Hennessey, whose term expires in January, threw his support behind Mirkarimi, they were a little bummed.
When we called Don Wilson, the president of the DeputySheriffs' Association, he told us that there are plenty of great candidates coming from within the department, including the revered David Wong, a deputy sheriff.
"I think rank and file would maybe like him to consider others in the department," Wilson told us without hesitation. "It's really early to make an endorsement and it's best to see who is out there, especially if there are candidates within the Sheriff's Department wanting the position."
Wilson then pointed out the obvious -- that Mirkarimi, who briefly worked as an investigator in the District Attorney's Office, is definitely the front runner in this race. Yet he then quickly decided that this fact doesn't mean he is the right leader for the department, Wilson says. Mirkarimi is running against six other candidates, most of whom have worked, or are currently working, in some law-enforcement capacity.
"The rank and file is concerned that [Mirkarimi] is not from within the department and he is not [currently] in a law-enforcement function," Wilson tells SF Weekly. "Would it be a political race for him, or is it going to be law enforcement-minded?"
The DSA has yet to endorse a candidate, but what the members are looking for is a leader who will utilize deputies in the field more often, such as Golden Gate Park, where there's been complaints of increasing crime. In other words, San Francisco deputies want a leader who will put them closer to the action.
And while the union has generally gotten along with Hennessey over the years, Mirkarimi seemed the obvious choice to city hall insiders. Hennessey told the Chronicle that a huge part of the job as sheriff is understanding politics and city government -- a subject in which Mirkarimi is clearly well-versed.
Aside from that, the two share the same political sentiments and ideologies.
Let's not forget that Hennessey, who has been a longtime progressive in San Francisco, a position that doesn't necessarily fit the traditional mold of a sheriff, was the progressives' pick for mayor earlier this year. They had pushed their colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to appoint Hennessey to replace former Mayor Gavin Newsom, who left office in January.
"There's not anyone in that department that is a Hennessey protege that's running," said Jim Ross, a local political consultant.
And this endorsement makes the race for Mirkarimi's opponents that much harder.
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